Buzzard Sunday – Hinckley

7.) Buzzard Sunday – Hinckley – March 20, 2011

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To the average English major, March 15, also known as the “Ides of March,” is remembered as a day of warning for Julius Caesar. Since he didn’t heed the warning, he was stabbed countless times, leading to his (spiritual) departure, which was immediately celebrated by his enemies.

But to everyone in Hinckley Township, this day has a very different significance. Instead, area residents come together to celebrate a day where they heed a “natural prophecy” – the return of a special type of resident who eats the (spiritually) departed…

…the Turkey Vulture – better known in these parts as the Buzzard.

(They would have loved Julius.)

Since 1957, area residents and buzzard-lovers have been coming to Hinckley Reservation early on March 15th to await the return of buzzards that have made a home of the reservation’s cliffs, caverns and open fields.

Legends surround the buzzards and their connection to the area. One says that they started coming after the “Great Hinckley Hunt” of December 1818, when 400 settlers hunted down bear, fox, wolf, deer and other critters – all predators of their livestock and crop. Once all those dead animals started to thaw on the ground where they were left, the buzzards came and never forgot the great meal they had.

Another legend connects the buzzards a little earlier to 1808, when a Wyandott squaw was hung for witchcraft in an area where the buzzards ended up calling home.

Whether these events happened or not, it doesn’t take away from this special March 15th return…

…and the Buzzard Sunday celebration soon after.

Here, at the reservation’s Buzzard Roost…

…the Boy Scouts set up camp and physical challenges for the visiting kids.

There are also buzzard-related activities, including hikes, Buzzard Bingo, story telling…

…plenty of fun photo-ops…

…a few slightly frightening ones (if you consider what these birds eat)…

…a bird sighting scoreboard…

…buzzard hats and souvenirs…

…buzzard sugar cookies (!!!)…

…and even a buzzard menu…

…where I waited in line…

…for a tasty buzzard burger.

Inside the tented area…

…the Buzzard Boilers played some great bluegrass…

…while there was plenty of information from the Medina Raptor Center.

The Raptor Center, which rescues, rehabilitates, and releases birds of prey…

…brought both a human imprinted and injured buzzard for visitors to see…

…and they really seemed to like the attention.

I snapped some pics and even took this video…

…but maybe it wasn’t enough…

…because one seemed to following me as I walked back to my car.

(Maybe he just smelled the burger!)

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